As a local resident to Groenewegje, just to the south of the city centre, one of my favourite stops for drinks and food is De Kade on Bierkade. A small, friendly café-bar restaurant mix, it offers the perfect spot to kick back and relax canal side in the Autumn sun.
You may know the site from its days as Blij. New owners Sanne Havinga and Juan Trentadue took over earlier this summer and have completely revamped the place, whilst keeping a similar vibe to that which attracted customers in the past.
“When we opened De Kade we wanted to create a venue that could act as a meeting point to the neighbourhood, a timeless location that everyone could easily find and recognise”, says Juan.
“We knew that taking over Blij and making changes was a big risk”, adds Sanne. “People react differently to change and, potentially, they could easily stop visiting us. So we’ve made every effort to replicate the love and attention that [former owners] Bram and Martine placed in the site for the past five years”.
Juan and Sanne have been living in the area for ten years, primarily down to Juan’s love of beer.
“In 2007, I made the conscious decision to live in the Dunne Bierkade purely because of its proximity to De Paas, my favourite pub in the world”, says Juan. “From there I discovered all the other jewels of the Avenue Culinaire and Huygenspark”.
The most obvious difference between Blij and De Kade for the already initiated customer is the revamping of the interior design, and the outward presentation.
“Blij started as a lunchroom, and then became a restaurant”, says Sanne. “There was a change in service but not in appearance. When we took over and rebranded as De Kade we wanted to make the space look more like a restaurant”.
“We have reduced the prices of food and drinks slightly, whilst expanding the wine selection”, says Juan. “Opening hours remain the same, although we are thinking to extend them to cater to the early commuters heading to Holland Spoor station”.
This month they’ve also opened the relaxed De Kade Lounge on the first floor of the venue.
“Its a place were you can chill and relax with your friends, family… and foes”, jokes Juan.
The menu ranges from hearty brunch options and lunch room favourites through to a much more dynamic menu of small plates and sharing dishes.
“We are open for breakfast, lunch, drinks, and dinner and we cater to a varying clientele during those mealtimes. Regardless of that, the underlying idea is to present satisfying and generous dishes, at affordable prices to all our customers”.
“We try to source our food as locally as possible”, says Sanne. “Many of our fruits and vegetables come from UrbanFarmers, and our eggs are also sourced locally. We work with other local brands such as Van Kleef distillery, Roast Factory, Eiber, Kompaan brewery, Juicy Juice, and others. We want to reduce our footprint by reducing logistics. Our mantra is ‘rather around the corner than around the world’”.
Sanne is no stranger to the world of hospitality, having worked in the industry for 14 years. She also operate another venue in the city – Lapsang tea house on Oude Molstraat – that, unusually, she shares with another restaurant business.
“Sanne acquired Lapsang about two years ago, and its been running very well thanks to the team working there”, says Juan. “Although De Kade is my first experience of working in hospitality; its certainly been a steep learning curve for me but the more I do, the more I like it”.
Sharing a venue with another operator is a very rare model. Sanne and her team operate the daytime business whereas her opposites run a separate business model in the evening.
“It works well as it reduces costs for both entrepreneurs, but you couldn’t do this with just anyone”, admits Sanne. “You first have to establish a good working relationship with your partner”.
Talking of partners, how easy is it to work with your life partner? Surely its difficult to manage your work lives from spilling over into your personal lives?
“Sanne and I have a very open and honest communication channel”, says Juan. “We have a clear mission of what we want to achieve with the business and with our lives. Of course we disagree at times but we always tackle problems as soon as they arise. We don’t hold grudges. The key to our business performance stems from our determination to have a committed, loving relationship”.
Restaurateurs are a nosey bunch but equally they also like to support others in the industry. Sanne and Juan are no different, and have their favourite eateries and watering holes in the Groenewegje area.
“For an easy night out, we often go to restaurants in the neighbourhood”, says Juan. “Basaal, Restaurant M, Werelds, De Bordelaise, De Lisboa a Madrid…”
“We try to take each other out to new locations around the city. Last month, I took Sanne out to ñ in the Nobelstraat”, he continues.
“I am still waiting for Sanne to take me out this month though”, he jokes.
So how are Sanne and Juan settling into being business owners in the area?
“Since we landed at De Kade, we received a lot of help from all our neighbours and we have good relations with all the restaurateurs in the street”, says Juan. “Less cannot be said from our neighbours Bas and Loes from Basaal. We have quickly established a friendly relationship that goes beyond professional courtesy”.
“We regularly meet for drinks after closing time and it was during our last encounter that we decided to work together in a joint event. On Sunday 8 October we’re going to be celebrating Oktoberfest. There’ll be delicious sausages, schnitzels, and, of course, lots of beers and music. Children and grown-ups are welcome to celebrate with us!”
I’ve enjoyed many a summer Sunday evening on the terrace at De Kade, and it is without doubt a unique business for the neighbourhood. I’m looking forward to donning my lederhosen when I return from holiday next month and joining the party.
De Kade, Dunne Bierkade 1A, 2512 BC Den Haag 070 889 3330